The Industrial Cottage logo
Picture of a black desk with croquet mallets leaning against the right side.

The Industrial Cottage was established in North Carolina in 2006 as a high-end baby bedding manufacturer, providing baby boutiques all over the country with beautiful bedding. In 2008, the economy took a turn for the worse and there was a need to change directions. Molly and Quentin Tilman decided to press pause and move back to Virginia to be near family. During the next few years, they spent their time growing their family through foster care and adoption. But the need to create was strong and soon they found themselves looking for a way to revive The Industrial Cottage once more. That’s when they found furniture!

“In many ways we feel that every turn we have taken over our 24 years of marriage has brought us here. We are where we belong. We started in our garage, took over the dining room, the sunroom, and then the shed. We finally moved to a warehouse with space for painting and storing more furniture but discovered that we really wanted a full retail space.” That’s how they landed on Church Street in an 8,500 square foot, beautiful brick warehouse.
The Industrial Cottage custom paints and redesigns vintage, antique, and mid-century furniture. They also have vintage home goods, and high-end consignment pieces. They offer finishes from shabby chic to high gloss lacquer. They look forward to bringing in a custom line of couches and chairs, and their own line of paint!

Currently one of their biggest challenges is keeping up with all the inventory and maintaining a large retail space with only a few employees. They could use more help but can’t afford to hire more people yet. Fear is also a challenge: fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of succeeding at the wrong things. Two things have helped Molly get past those fears: “first, a journal of all the blessings. When I feel like everything is out of control, or I am afraid we won’t make payroll, I go back to that list and look at all the ways God has provided and blessed us. It is really hard to be fearful when you are thankful. Second, I have a support group that I can cry and laugh with. My support group helps me troubleshoot problems and encourages me to keep moving forward.”

Photo of a white armoire in front of a white wall and tv
Photo of dark brown armoire with photo and large plate on it

Currently one of their biggest challenges is keeping up with all the inventory and maintaining a large retail space with only a few employees. They could use more help but can’t afford to hire more people yet. Fear is also a challenge: fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of succeeding at the wrong things. Two things have helped Molly get past those fears: “first, a journal of all the blessings. When I feel like everything is out of control, or I am afraid we won’t make payroll, I go back to that list and look at all the ways God has provided and blessed us. It is really hard to be fearful when you are thankful. Second, I have a support group that I can cry and laugh with. My support group helps me troubleshoot problems and encourages me to keep moving forward.”

Molly and Quentin see their greatest success as their people focus. They genuinely like people, and it shows in the way they interact with both customers and business partners. “When Quentin and I got married, Quentin’s motto for our family was: ‘It’s not about me, it’s about the other guy.’ We really have tried to live that personally and in business.”

The Tilmans love their city! They have been foster parents for six years, adopting three of their six children from foster care. They have worked with Empowering Youth to Serve, an organization that helps to bridge the gap between inner city youth and suburban youth through service to the community. As a business, they want to be a resource for people in the community, preserve the history of their location, and be involved in community events.

“The best part of owning your own business is that it is yours. I have never worked so hard in my life, but at the end of the day it is my vision that I am building. I went from a stay-at-home mom with plenty of time to accomplish house, kids, and life to a full-time working mom who can’t even find time to clean the toilet, much less fold the laundry, and cook!” The best advice they have for other businesses is to believe in what you do. “If you don’t love and believe in the product you are producing, you won’t be able to put in the long hours, tears, and sweat it takes to make it grow.”

The Industrial Cottage
Owners: Molly and Quentin Tilman
2500 B Church Street
Norfolk, VA 23504
(757) 375-4330
www.theindustrialcottage.com